A nurse who has never been employed in Portugal is a finalist for the second time in a row for the best long-term care professional award in the UK and is also among the best in the East of England.
Despite being a non-winning finalist for the National Care Awards in 2017, Sílvia Alves was named again this year by superiors, colleagues and residents of the nursing home where she works in Thetford, a town 140 miles northeast of London.
“It was a surprise because it is very difficult to go for the second time in the final. Being in the top five of the country is already very good,” admitted the Portuguese.
The Care Registered Nurse Award recognizes a long-term care professional who demonstrates excellent clinical and management qualities and “a high level of dedication and support for those who help.”
“Sílvia is outstanding!” Sums up Ruth French, the operations director of the Stow Healthcare group, which manages five nursing homes in the regions of Suffolk and East Essex.
In addition to being a “talented and competent health professional,” French attributes merit to the Portuguese because, along with Ford Place home director Alison Charlesworth, she has returned to the institution, which was evaluated by the regulator Care Quality Commission with the note maximum of ‘Outstanding’ this year.
“Sylvia has helped our team to empower themselves by supporting them to care for residents with very complex care needs. This has made Ford Place the ‘most desirable’ home in our palliative care area and for those who need many nursing cares, “he praised.
Currently studying to be a director of nursing homes, Sílvia Alves, 33, had a rapid rise since she hardly spoke English and was not able to work as a nurse when she arrived in the UK in 2014.
Born in Vila do Conde, he left Portugal frustrated by the difficulty in finding a job after graduation at the Vale do Ave High School of Health in 2013.
“I went to deliver the curriculum to several places looking for work, but they always told me that they did not employ qualified nurses for less than a year and no hospital called me for contests. I worked in a home support in Vila do Conde and was a volunteer for Firefighters Volunteers, but it was not enough to survive and pay bills, “he told.
Instead of following the path of recruitment through agencies, like hundreds of other Portuguese nurses working in hospitals in the UK in recent years, Sílvia Alves has decided to “go on an adventure” by her means.
“My English was weak, almost non-existent, I had to learn here. I got a job in a nursing home while waiting for my PIN [professional card] to work through the Nurses Order here, which took 10 months,” he told.
In December 2015, seven months after working as a nurse, she was promoted to clinical director and in September 2016 the deputy director, contributing to improve the functioning of staff, but also of assistance to residents.
Several actions attributed to Sílvia Alves, such as the introduction of a nutritional boost, such as enhanced doses of dairy products, fruit or honey, are mentioned in the document for the award to compensate for the cut in public funding of dietary supplements.
In other cases, he suggested changes in feeding or medication to improve well-being, weight gain, or help with wound management.
“Sílvia takes special care with my feet and legs and it’s okay to get on my knees to make sure they are well treated and do not cause me problems. I had a stubborn wound on my foot that took a lot to heal and it benefited greatly by having Sylvia accompany her very carefully, “said the resident identified only as a CI in a document supporting the nomination for the awards.
The Ford Place home, where Sílvia Nunes works, is also named to the Care Care of the Year category by the Care Care publication, with the winners announced on November 30 In London.
Prior to November 15, the Great British Care Awards will take place in the East England regional gala, another prize for which Vilacondense is nominated in the category of Good Nurse Award.
If he wins, he may be a national finalist, whose winners will be known in March 2019.
Reflecting on course and experience in the United Kingdom, the Portuguese ensures that she has been “fantastic” and that she has never felt treated differently or as a foreigner.
“When my English was very weak, they always helped me try to improve: they helped me write and corrected my reports if it was not correct,” he recalled.
Although the awards for which she is nominated do not translate into a monetary reward, Sílvia Alves says she feels recognized on a personal and professional level when colleagues, residents and family members of the workplace are proud of having “one of the best nurses from the country”.